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Europe and Globalization

What role did globalization play in Europe's "no" vote for the EU constitution?

June 23, 2005

What role did globalization play in Europe's "no" vote for the EU constitution?

As the recent referendums demonstrated, many EU member states still struggle mightily with the effects globalization is having on their economies and social systems. Change is underway — but is it happening fast enough for Europe to adapt to global integration? Our Read My Lips feature takes a closer look.

What does the French referendum say about Europe’s view of globalization?

“France’s rejection of the EU charter is a message of concern about the situation in Europe in the face of globalization and about the situation in France.”
(French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, June 2005)

Do many Europeans still think of globalization as a threat?

“Many Europeans want their sovereignty and identity aggressively protected against the effects of globalization — and so-called American hegemony.”
(Felix Rohatyn, former U.S. ambassador to France, May 2004)

Why is this ironic in a historic context?

“Short of going back to the Crusades, it was the European colonial expansion starting in the 16th century that marked the beginning of the globalization that we now see triumphant.”
(Hubert Védrine, then France's foreign minister, March 2001)

What is Europe's role in the age of globalization?

“Historically, Europeans played a role as an exporter of ideas, as a conqueror and as exploiter. I think in these days, Europe could serve as an inspiration for other parts of the world in order to counter the dangers of globalization.”
(Vaclev Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, October 2004)

Is Europe the global leader on protecting the environment?

“Europe has the moral leadership today, but Europe needs both the United States and China to join a global effort to curb carbon emissions.”
(Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, January 2005)

Is globalization a threat to the livelihood of some European countries?

“Can Finland, a country of 5.2 million on the periphery of Europe — with high taxes and high wages — remain a competitive manufacturer in an era of globalization?”
(Christopher Brown-Humes, Financial Times columnist, May 2004)

What must the EU achieve economically to maintain its internal cohesiveness?

“Faster growth is paramount for the sustainability of the European mode. Sustainability is under threat from rapid developments in demography, technology and globalization — all of which increase the demand for social protection and security.”
(Former EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, April 2004)

And what is Great Britain's role in getting Europe to adapt to globalization?

“Britain is part of Europe by history, by geography and by economics. And I believe that Britain can be a leader in Europe as Europe equips itself for the challenge of globalization.”
(British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, May 2003)

Has EU decision-making become too onerous to be effective globally?

“Too often, we fail to react to global crises because of difficulties in reaching a common accord. In this, we miss out on key opportunities to influence global developments.”
(Danuta Hübner, Polish EU commissioner, April 2004)

What is one reason for further expanding the EU?

“A small Europe would be too small in the strategic dimension to deal with the new threats and challenges of terrorism and globalization.”
(Joschka Fischer, Germany’s foreign minister, February 2004)

What challenge does globalization force on the European Union?

“Globalization forces the European Union to shift from an old, often inward-looking trade bloc to a flexible, reforming, open and globally oriented Europe able to master the economic challenge from Asia and America.”
(Gordon Brown, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, November 2003)

Why should Europeans simply accept their role in globalization?

“Globalization is not something China imposed on us, but something we have done ourselves. People must be told that globalization is our policy.”
(Gunter Verheugen, vice president of the European Commission, June 2005)

How do the French tend to approach the issue?

“Globalization needs to be harnessed. You can’t do that without strong institutions like the World Trade Organization.”
(Pascal Lamy, former EU trade commissioner, October 2001)

And what do outsiders think of Europe's reaction to globalization's challenges?

“The Europeans may be feeling a bit bruised — they are sensitive chaps.”
(Alec Erwin, South Africa’s trade and industry minister, October 2003)

How does Europe's approach to global issues differ from America’s?

“Europe is the civilian superpower, dispensing 70% of global foreign aid — and spreading its largesse far more widely than the United States.”
(Andrew Moravcsik, professor of Politics at Princeton University, July 2003)

Which showdown has been developing for a while?

“Welcome to the global economic version of Wrestlemania: The Free Marketeers vs. the Euro-Regulators.”
(Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, February 1999)

And finally, what does the EU have to do to find a middle ground between these two?

“The EU has to come to terms with forces of globalization, in a way which maximizes prosperity, employment and social welfare.”
(British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, June 2005)